Stuck

Stuck

Cracks in the pavement
are pages in your diary,
detailing the days
of wasted waiting.

The day rivers rebelled,
your head full of warmer climes,
despite the iced hair
licking your face.

The face charming all.
You did not throw bricks,
granting the entrance
to the Malley’s home.

Moving to the big city,
they took your best friend.
Promises to write
and insincere hopes.

The wish against fact.
Futile hopes never dying.
The map says: ‘you are here’.
It is lying.

by Kimberly Jamison

Insomnia FM

Insomnia FM

Reed sighed as he rifled through the vinyl. Lucian was still outside smoking on deck. Reed never let him smoke inside, let alone in one of the booths. There was too much vital equipment to ruin. It had taken him years to collect it all. Most of it was obtained through legal means.

He put the record on. The needle made its comforting scratch telling him it was in place. It was a minute till half one, the time they began, the time they were needed. His colleague rushed in as Bob Dylan began singing from the record player as the time hit one thirty. ‘One Too Many Mornings’ summed everything up for Reed.

He had started this project once he had been discharged from hospital but he just didn’t know how much longer they could continue evading the police on their boat, ‘the Graveyard Shift’.

 

Reed leaned back in his chair and watched the vinyl changeover to the next song.

 

“How do we know it’s over yet?

When it’s barely begun”

 

***

 

Max stood on the ledge. His toes leaning slightly over it making his stomach jump uncomfortably. This was it. He was going to do it once and for all. He tried to remember if he had left his cat flap open so Molly could escape. He didn’t want her trapped alone in that rotting flat. Molly was all he had left after the divorce. He took one last look into the office that used to belong to him swallowed deeply. It hurt because his mouth was so dry.

 

“How do we know it’s over yet?

While we are still on the run.”

 

He smiled wryly at the words coming out from his radio as he looked at the street below. Traffic zoomed past hundreds of feet below him. Blurs of light zigzagged around pavements and roads but he couldn’t make anything out clearly. That was okay though, he was alone and no one could see him to try and stop him, he thought. But a part of him wondered whether he should go back inside, just to turn the radio off first.

 

“We are all restless creatures

Who can never find the balance”

 

“The truth!” Max shouted as he clung to the panels of the office window. He laughed out loud. The lyrics hit him but not like his usual hit did.

 

“How do you know it’s over yet?

When you’ve asked for a helping hand

And the world laughs back at you

And leaves you there to die”

 

This was a new high he’d never experienced before. His good friend MDMA could make him happy for a little while but the empty feeling would always crawl its way back into his stomach like a small wild animal. This was different.

.

“You’ll know it’s over, I’ll tell ya’

Because I’ll come to your side.”

 

Max unconsciously looked beside him. Down, by his foot was a small square of darker paint. It had been where his picture frame had stood. The rest of the window ledge had become discoloured from the bright light of the sun and all the atrocious man-made city lights that were outside his window. The picture frame had held the photo of him and his kids in it. His ex-wife had been the one to take it, the only good thing she’d ever done for him, he thought.

 

“But for now, we both have things to do

I’ll meet you that day…”

 

With the last words coming out of the radio, Max realised he was crying. The salty tears had covered his suit and tie leaving blossoming dark patches. The street below looked too blurred and too dark for him now. He had missed one too many mornings with his ex-wife and kids. He crooked his leg around the frame and ducked back inside the building leaving just wet tear stains smeared by his hands on the bricks.

The wet smudges would disappear by morning and the cleaner would wonder how scuff marks had gotten onto the highest window ledge of the building.

***

“But for now, we both have things to do

Because today is not the day.”

 

Reed watched the vinyl spin round until it stopped sharply. It was hypnotic. He read his papers detailing the quotes and speeches they’d use for the night coming as Lucian readied his next tapes.

It had always been a playful fight between Reed and Lucian. Tapes or vinyl. They settled for allowing the other to use whatever they liked in their own part of the set as long as they could use their preferred method.

Lucian had grown up taping his favourite songs when they came on the radio. He pirated music back then as well. It always annoyed him that someone would shout or drop something during the best few lines and the background noise would always pick up on the recording. Reed had always made fun of him, but when his eighteenth birthday came up and Lucian’s parents didn’t buy him the new tape deck he wanted, it was Reed who turned up the next day with one eyebrow raised and the tape deck in his arms.

As usual, halfway through his music set, Lucian took to the microphone to speak. “For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” He paused. “Wise words from the great Steve Jobs there. You know the guy who invented all of your fancy iPods and iMacs and iWhatevers. That guy knew what he was on about. Change. And he became one of the most successful people ever. He had his ups and downs. He got chucked out of his own company for god’s sake. But he fought back. And that’s what we are all going to do tonight. If you think you can’t change, just imagine it.”

The booth went quiet apart from the clicking and whirring sound of the tape. Lucian pressed play.

“Those dreams you dreamed as a little child

Are all dead and gone.”

 

***

The sound of a purring voice echoed through the room. This was the sixth night in a row Vicki hadn’t been able to sleep. She never had the best of sleep, being an insomniac, and she was familiar with the soft soothing sounds of Insomnia FM. Her radio was her favourite possession and constantly on the frequency of the Insomnia group’s pirate boat broadcast. She had always wanted to visit the ‘Graveyard Shift’ and tell them what good a job she thought they did.

“And they whirl their way

Through your brain

As if you haven’t had enough.”

 

However, tonight, she felt let down. It was just the lack of sleep, she said to herself. And the stomach cramps. They were keeping her awake. She deluded herself substituting food with fifty laxatives a day couldn’t possibly be the cause of her depressive mood. How could something meant to make her slimmer make her feel bad?

“And those little dreams

That became bigger dreams

Turn into nightmares

Even during the day.”

 

“What dreams?” She asked herself looking around her one room flat. “This dream.” She snorted. She hadn’t achieved anything she set out to achieve. Her relatives had been right. She was just another waitress with big ideas about being discovered. Maybe if she had blonde hair? Maybe if her teeth were whiter? Maybe if she was skinnier…

“Make them go away

Shout and scream, don’t stay

As if you haven’t had enough.”

 

She was so hungry. How long had it been since she’d eaten. Those laxatives contained nutrients didn’t they? They contained Magnesium, she knew that. It could make you vomit, she remembered from school chemistry lessons. She had enjoyed them before she got caught up in all this. Distracted they said she was. Magnesium.

“Let go of all those bad words

The playground kids would use.”

 

Magnesium was poison. Like food. But poison. Oh god, she thought before she vomited again.

“Let go of yourself

We all fail

Let go of your faults

And they’ll become dead and gone.”

 

“No, not yet. Not yet,” she whimpered, crawling over to her phone. Her hands shook as she dialled the number she pretended she had forgotten.

“Hello,” she croaked, getting weaker.

“Vicki?! Is that you, oh god tell me it’s you! Where are you?” her sister Sarah shouted.

“I’ve done something-”

“Oh fuck,” muffled shaking followed and she could hear her sister screaming at her boyfriend that she had found her and to call the police.

“Sar?” she whined.

“I’m here. You sound ill, Vic, where are you? Vic, Vicki!”

Vicki didn’t reply. She had passed out.

***

“Let go of yourself

And dream again.”

 

Lucian finished his last set of the night and handed it back over to Reed. Reed continued throughout the night until dawn while Lucian had a nap. The birds started chattering and he made his way down below the deck again and found Reed sobbing through the last song of the night. This happened every now and again. He was better now, since he was discharged from hospital.

“I don’t know if anyone can hear,” Reed sobbed.

He was still prone to emotional bursts, especially after hard weeks. This week had been brutal.

“Is- is anyone actually listening? Do we actually do anything?”

 

Reed slammed his hands down onto the desk, knocking all the papers onto the sticky floor. “How do we know we have changed anything, anything at all?”

Lucian knew the best way to deal with this was to let him get is out of his system. It was helping him, doing this project. And even if it wasn’t, it was keeping him busy, keeping his mind of other things. Lucian made his way back up to thedeck to watch the dawn sunrise, leaving Reed to rocking himself side to side, repeating his never ending worry.

“But- but, how do we know anyone is listening?”

by Kimberly Jamison

The West Pier

The West Pier
is a wooden spider.
Its body is the
arsonist’s artistry.
The wind blows through
the gaping rooftop spine
but the concert hall hollow bones
stay silenced.
Its legs are splayed
determined to remain
dipping its cast-iron toes
into the murky sea
pointing to  the place
someone swam
to light the flame
that turned a postcard picture
into this
burnt out ruin.

by Kimberly Jamison

Ode to the quiet rebel

Oh you, shy you
Wearing red when everyone else wears blue
writing stories underneath the desk during maths class
pockets full of poems
and head full of questions 
Stay true, quiet rebel, stay true 

Injecting socialist quips into the capitalist force 
hoping for the butterfly effect 
leading by example 
not do as I say
Stay true, quiet rebel, stay true

Ink stained hands balled into fists
when the digital box shows more injustice 
feeling like an outsider
a left among the right
Stay true, quiet rebel, stay true

Keep being you with that quiet strength
that gives the rest of us resolve 
you don’t have to sing or shout.
Don’t worry, I hear your voice 
So stay true, quiet rebel, stay true 
By Kimberly Jamison 

For my favourite quiet rebels : Andrea, Lisa and Lizzie

Constructive destruction

trek down through crisp leaves, red fruit
to the pit of unspoken words
stone circles keeping safe from the fury within
duck under the flames
in and out through the dragon’s whisps 
embers snowing upon shoulders
branches above catching light
heat drawing tears from eyes
playing catch with the opaque smoke
giving the wooden offerings
finally rising up above are
the ghosts of what could have been

By Kimberly Jamison